Marzullo Hears Byram’s Gripes: Eyesores, New Leb Kindergarten, Pool and Hamill Ice Rink

About 25 Byram residents turned out on Thursday night for a chance to tell Greenwich Selectman Drew Marzullo, a Democrat who was re-elected in November for his third term, what was on their minds.

Branch Manager, Miguel Garcia-Colon welcomed Marzullo to the Byram Schubert Library.

The Selectman is a two decade Town employee who works for GEMS where he is currently a supervisor working three days a week. He grew up in Chickahominy and attended the former Byram School.

“My father worked at Arnold Bakery for 41 years,” Marzullo said.” Now it’s the Bimbo Bakery.”

Marzullo touched on the recently passed Town budget, characterizing it as huge.

“Some quick numbers on the budget, which will result in a 2.75 mill rate increase: Education, $143 million, employee benefits $90 million, annual pension fund $22 million, fire department budget at $14 million… Then you have the capital breakdown. We’re up to $46 million on MISA and included in that is soil remediation.”

Marzullo said that the $394 million budget was passed this week by the RTM in a vote of 176 to 9.

“But with 230 people on the RTM, that means 40 people didn’t vote, which is a pretty big number.” Still, Marzullo said, having a large RTM, at least in theory, puts people from all parts of town and all walks of life on even footing.

But mostly Marzullo listened as Byram residents aired some concerns and grievances:

Dorothy Hamill Ice Rink

The topic of the Dorothy Hamill Rink on Sherman Ave in Byram came up more than once. Parents of hockey players and figure skaters alike lamented the facility, which is not regulation size and lacks showers or adequate changing areas. The rink has been awaiting modernization for quite some time.

Screen Shot 2014-05-16 at 7.17.32 AMOriginally an open air rink. The Town converted it over time to an indoor rink. A roof was erected. Walls were added and bleachers installed. A warming hut was built to house the Zamboni. Before locker rooms were added in late 90s, patrons changed inside tents.

The facility is only used as an ice rink for part of the year. It was noted that hockey and skating families often drive their children to rinks that are open year-round, including those at Chelsea Piers.

back of BANC

The back of the Byram Archibald Neighborhood Center, where New Lebanon School’s kindergarteners will have classes in the 2014-2015 school year. Credit: Leslie Yager

New Lebanon Kindergarten: Drop-Off
One New Leb School family member expressed concern about parents dropping off children at BANC. He asked whether there was a protocol for children dropped off to school late and expressed concern about children crossing a busy intersection with Delavan Ave.

At the March Board of Education meeting, Superintendent McKersie explained that despite the short distance between New Lebanon school and BANC, that kindergarteners would be put on school buses for the short journey and dropped at the back door of the windowless former factory.

Eyesores and Blighted Properties: Demolition by Neglect

Screen Shot 2014-05-16 at 4.15.38 PM

14-16 William Street in Byram, near the intersection with South Water Street. May 2014. Credit: Leslie Yager

eyesore46 Mead Ave in Byram. May 2014

46 Mead Ave in Byram photographed in 2014

Residents said they are concerned about homes that are in such disrepair they impact property values and are eyesores.

Patricia Kantorski said she was dismayed that a house on William Street Ave has a roof so damaged that the insides are exposed to rain.

Describing the homeowner’s approach as “Demolition by neglect,” she expressed concern that the property is a health hazard for the neighborhood.

“Rain has been coming in. There are probably mice, and river rats and raccoons getting in.  And the weeds are over your head, and it looks so bad. What can be done?” she asked.

Marzullo said there are eyesores and blighted properties in random parts of Town, including some of the most expensive neighborhoods. He added that these situations can be a challenge when the homeowner has psychiatric issues or simply cannot afford to upkeep a property.

He suggested Kantorski send him an email, which he promised to forward to “the nuisance guy,” who will go out and do a quick visual. Next, he said, “The Town would send letter to the homeowner asking him to cut the grass, or address whatever.”

byram pool 2011

File photo, Byram Pool July 2011. Credit: Leslie Yager

Byram Pool

Marzullo said $200,000 was approved for a study of the Byram pool, a public-private partnership that will be undertaken by the Jr. League of Greenwich, though there was a motion on the floor the night of the vote about trying to cut the money.

Vince DiMarco said, “If we spent more on certain things we may be able to raise revenue. To me that would add value to Bryam. Think of the 100° week we had last summer,” he said. “There was initially included in the pool project a splash pad or splash park. It would draw people.”

“It’s called the Byram Pool, but a good pool in Byram is also a pool that is good for the community.” – Marzullo

“I agree with you wholeheartedly, Marzullo said of investing in resources that add value and possibly generate revenue.

“It’s called the Byram Pool, but a good pool in Byram is also a pool that is good for the community,” he said emphatically. “A good, well-functioning New Lebanon School is not just good for the people of Byram. It is good for the people of Greenwich. A good well-functioning fire station in back country effects people downtown.”

“What’s happened over the last year, especially with the BOE elections, you had various entities against each other for some reason,” Marzullo said. “When you have a racial imbalance issue in a section of Greenwich, it should effect all of us. We all should care about that.”

Is Byram Underrepresented in Town Government

“If we can get more people out there from Byram with an opinion, I think it does help,” Marzullo said to the 25 who turned out Thursday night to meet with him.

The selectman recalled how recently 200+ neighbors in the vicinity of the intersection of North Street, Parsonage Rd and Fairfield Rd, turned out in force to oppose the DPW engineers’ intersection redesign.

“I get the feeling from the Town a lot that we should be grateful for what we get. It’s not like we’re not putting money in that coffer.” – Byram resident, Glenn Peterson

“I think the Town sometimes overlooks the contribution, revenue wise, that New Lebanon school district makes to the Town,” Peterson added. “It’s not as if the revenue from Byram Shore Rd wasn’t coming in. And,” said Peterson, “The land for New Lebanon School was donated by the Teagles from Byram Shore Rd and Calf Island was donated from the Milbanks and Teagles. That gave us the YMCA. So we have Byram to thank.”

“That’s a good point,” Marzullo said several times.

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